What is Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (UCE)?
Why is it that I have an e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org?
More commonly known as SPAM, UCE, or unsolicited bulk e-mail
(UBE) is sent to you without your consent, or desire. Its
main goal is usually to sell something, although - not always.
The following links can help you learn about and help protect
yourself from SPAM.
Just who is sending all of this crap?
Some malefactor (the spammer, in this case) has forged an
invalid "Return-to" address. So their message gets to you,
and if you click on the "reply" button, complaints
(or compliments) that you might have for them do not go
to them. Instead they go to the innocent 3rd party, and
in this case, a non-existent e-mail address.
Because this false e-mail ends in "@captain-justice.com"
it immediately becomes my problem.
How is that possible?
It's very hard to discern. That being said, I am trying
to discover this information.
E-mail servers will stamp their unique identifier onto and
e-mail message (IP address) and the unique identifier of
the computer that sent it. In theory, one can trace an e-mail
back to to person that sent it. Indeed, when this sort of
thing has happened before, I have traced the origin of the
individual responsible. Armed with this information, it
was possible to have their ISP cancel their account.
There is one major problem with this latest attack, however.
These e-mails are not originating from a single source.
They are coming from all over the world - literally.
That's sounds like too fantastic of a story. Is this for real?
I'm going to have to say that in this case, I can't be 100%
sure. However, I do have some pretty good ideas.
In the ongoing war with spammers on one side, and system
administrators and e-mail users on the other, techniques
and tools are under constant refinement - on both sides.
Administrators put in place filters, and the spammers craft
messages to get around them. We close down their accounts,
and they go down the street and open another.
This latest development, is an odd one, difficult to trace,
and I currently don't have a counter to it. Because of the
distributed nature of the origins of these unwanted e-mails,
it looks like someone has compromised a good deal of home
computer systems. Computer systems connected to the internet
via high speed cable or DSL connections, and that are left
on all day.
Can't you stop them from sending these e-mails?
I wish that I was making this up. Unfortunately I am not
These exploits are real. These e-mails that I am seeing
fit the pattern. Is this the same group that masterminded
the Citibank scam? Probably not. Are they using a sophisticated
method to distribute their SPAM? Definitely.
Why not just hack their website? Or DDoS it?
No. Unfortunately, contrary to what you may have learned
on Knight Rider, one man cannot make a difference.
On the other hand, ALL of you can make a difference. If
you want to show your displeasure - use your power as a
consumer. The site that these e-mails are advertising is:
Contact them (if they've fixed their contact page since
I've tried to reach them) and voice your displeasure with
their marketing associates. Let them know that you don't
approve of the (possibly illegal) marketing techniques of
their affiliates. Let them know that because of such marketing,
you would be less inclined to spend your purchasing-drugs-over-the-internet
budget with them.
It is true that people like Mafiaboy
have shown us how easy it is to knock sites off the internet,
that's not the solution here either. To do so would be
- stooping to the level of the spammers?
- directing anger at a potentially innocent party?
- all of the above?
The correct answer is "all of the above." Two
wrongs have never made a right.